With summer in full swing, farmers markets are full of seasonal offerings. A trip to the farmers market makes for a great opportunity to show children where food comes from so they will feel more connected to the food they eat. Why does this matter? Children are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when given the opportunity to participate in the shopping experience!
In addition to farmers markets, similar options include local farms and “you-pick” farms. Visiting a farm and picking your own fruits and vegetables is a way to engage the whole family in eating better, while having fun at the same time. Local Harvest provides nationwide listings of local farmers market, CSAs (community supported agriculture), and farms. Pick Your Own lists pick-your-own farms around world.
Here are 5 tips for getting the most out of your farmers market trip with your child:
- Plan out a meal beforehand. It is always a good idea to plan ahead and decide what types of foods your family will eat to get an idea of what you need to buy. Leave a little room for spontaneity—there may be some unique finds that you weren’t expecting!
- Engage with farmers. Teach your children to speak with the people who grow the food, and encourage them to ask questions about how it was grown. This is a wonderful opportunity for them to learn about where food comes from and to practice speaking with adults.
- Allow your child to take the lead. All of the vibrant colors and fresh food may inspire your child in unexpected ways. By allowing your child to decide what to buy, you may be surprised by what he/she chooses.
- Give your child his/her own reusable bag. Children love taking responsibility and taking ownership of their decisions. Take advantage of this teaching opportunity: explain how reusable bags reduce our environmental impact.
- Take advantage of samples. Often, vendors will hand out samples of their foods allowing you and your child to try something new.
On a recent trip to our local farmers market, I followed my own advice and was surprised when my 4-year-old son picked out a Thai eggplant, bitter melon, three different varieties of summer squash, and tri-colored beans. I used the eggplant and squash to make an easy Slow Cooker Chicken and Vegetable Green Curry. He was a little wary at first, but once I showed him how I had used all of the vegetables he had picked out, he was much more willing to eat it—and after the first bite, he didn’t need any more convincing! Now what to do with that bitter melon…
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